The Michigan Tech Huskies (19-9-3, 17-4-3 (2-5) Pairwise) find themselves out of the CCHA regular season championship as they managed only 4 of 6 points against the Ferris State Bulldogs (10-21-1, 7-19-1 (3-2) Pairwise) in what I could only describe as a sorry weekend performance. They end their season against the league champion Minnesota State Mavericks (29-5-0, 27-5-0 (2-0) Pairwise) at home.

Analysis

The Mavericks are the best team in hockey in my opinion. They might be second behind the Michigan Wolverines in the pairwise, but if they two were to play each other I would put money on the Mavericks every time. Since their last meeting, the Mavericks have gone 15-1 with one win coming in overtime and the only loss being an upset by Northern Michigan. The Mavericks are the real deal and as a result the Huskies will have their work cut out for them.

Going into the weekend, their top players are: 

The Mavericks are just an insane team top to bottom. I stopped listing players at 20 points which stops at defenseman Akrito Hirose who is at 0.71 points per game at 8th on the team. Nathan Smith will also be back in the States after traveling to the Olympics. Dryden McKay has been hot as ever and I’m sure we’ll see him in net this weekend. Otherwise, there isn’t much to say regarding this team. They are very good and their stats (other than special teams) are superior to Tech in every way. Finally, there was only one game in InStat for the Maverick’s last series against the Beavers so here is the shot plot for game two. 

Game Two

Looking at the Huskies, their whole weekend was a disappointment in my eyes. They continued their play from the second game against Bowling Green which saw their first loss of 2022. We also saw a flash back to how the Huskies played St. Thomas. Tech once again played down to an opponent that had no business making either game competitive. This isn’t a dig at Ferris either, the Bulldogs are much better than last year and are continually improving which is great for the program and the CCHA. However, this is supposed to be a Tech team whose end goal is a National Championship as even said by head coach Joe Shawhan. When the head coach gives that answer to what the goal of the program is, the level of scrutiny goes up and now the comparisons are with teams on the same level like Minnesota State & Western Michigan. 

The reason I brought up the Broncos and the Mavericks is that they also played Ferris State this season. Their collective record against the Bulldogs is 5-1, with the Mavericks dropping a game but otherwise scoring 5+ goals every other game. The Huskies on the hand were only able to put up two goals in regulation in game one as shown in our InStat plot:

Game One

Tech did have some quality shots on net but there is a reduction in how far the shots are away from the “Hard Ice”. 

Game two was a whole different story with five goals scored in just the first period alone. InStat shows that the Huskies also have a frustrating time taking high quality shots .

Game Two

Additionally, comparing the goals between teams the Huskies’ goals are all further away. Adding insult to injury, there were high number of shots taken from around the blue line. This does not bode well for a Huskies team that does a poor job screening the opposing goalie.  The last point I would like to make is the drastic differences in the roster. Here are the point leaders for the Huskies following the same 20 point or 0.70 pt/gm cut off.

The Tech roster has some similarities but is only five players. The Mavericks also have the equivalent of two Halonens and three Blisses. This just goes to show how outmatched Tech is on an individual basis. However, where the Huskies make up a ton of ground is via their systems and should be able to hold the Mavericks in check most of the weekend. 

Keys to the Game

  1. 120 minutes. The Huskies played a full 20 mins last weekend which was the third period of game two which saw a major comeback. If they are able to carry that momentum through all six periods this weekend they should have a chance to take a win or two.
  2. Stay out of the box. This has been a problem lately the Huskies need to keep their heads and not take dumb penalties. The refs have been very hit or miss the past few weekends, but the Huskies are still able to make meaningful strides in this department. 
  3. Crash. The. Net. Under no circumstances should the Huskies be taking shots from the blue line without screening the goaltender like they did in game two. They need to crash the net and take quality shots.

My Prediction

The Huskies are the preverbal underdogs this weekend and it all depends on what team decides to show up. If it was the Huskies of the first five periods last weekend, they have no chance this weekend. If it’s the Huskies that scored 3 goals in third, they might be able to pull off a split or even more. They will need to prove to us who decides to show up. Mankato wins 2-1, Mankato wins 3-1.

The guys on our Chasing MacNaughton Podcast also made predictions for this coming series against the Tommies. Season Three Episode Twenty-Three’s liner notes can be found here.

Cover photo courtesy Michigan Tech Athletics.

InStat plots created by Zach Aufdemberge

How to Watch

Tuesday’s games are available through Mix 93.5 for audio featuring Dirk Hembroff (free), via flohockey.tv* (paywall) for video. Friday’s game is at 7:07 EST with Saturday’s game being 6:07 EST

*Flohockey.tv is also the source of all games played in CCHA buildings this season so don’t be afraid to sign up for a month or the year. Flo Sports now has apps for iOS, Android (with Chromecast support), Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku.

3 COMMENTS

  1. While I have to agree that the Ferris series was disappointing, I might point out that our record against them is 3-0-1. First game was disappointing, but Ferris is tough on their pond. The Huskies really came to life in the third on Saturday, but why is it when people write an analysis, it always seems negative?

    Look at Ferris’ record over the past few series. They are vastly improved and goaltending is very good. As to the Mankato series, now that it is over, the Huskies did not look good in the second half of the game on Friday, and played like champions in the game on Saturday. I realize you had no way of knowing how that would turn out, but you fail to point out the difficulties Blake had on Saturday at Ferris.

    That rink is a nightmare. For everybody. Was I disappointed? Somewhat. Am I going to run down a team that had reached an exhaustion point due to scheduling? Nope. It seems that everything involved with the THG is negative. Why is that? If the team went out and won a national championship, there’d be complaints, or so it seems.

    Pretty close on the scores for the Mankato series, though. A hundred bucks says we beat them if we play them again.

    Hopefully, you’ll have more positive things to say after this weekend. I would suggest that Ferris is going to find it more than a little bit different than at Big Rapids.

    • Todd,

      You bring up some good points, but I think we are looking at a few different paths.

      The 3-0-1 record is only in the CCHA while in the pairwise implications are 2 wins, 1 OTW, and 1 Tie. Against a team that is currently 48th in the Pairwise. Coach Shawhan has stated (and rightfully so) that the goal of this team is to win a national championship. Taking 2 of 4 games in regulation is simply unacceptable in my eyes if we are to accomplish this goal (same with 2 OTW and a tie with 59th St. Thomas). The record is miss leading in my opinion because the end goal of this team was always the NCAA tournament with the CCHA tournament being a secondary thought.

      Secondly I did state that I didn’t want to take anything away from the Bulldogs. They are much improved and a young team and I fully expect them to be in contention beginning next year. However, we should have taking all four games in regulation due to our age, skill, and team composition. Instead we went down to big rapids and let the small ice beat us. Ferris has probably the best (if not close to the best) home ice advantage, I will admit that, but we are the better team and we need to win those.

      As far as team exhaustion is concerned, the Huskies were on normal rest going into Big Rapids and that isn’t an excuse that can be used as far as I’m concerned.

      As far as THG negativity is concerned, I would disagree with you. If you feel that everything thing we do here is negative, then you may need to reassess your own views to make sure you aren’t watching Tech Hockey with rose colored glasses. For a team whose goal is to make the NCAA tournament tying to both Ferris State and St. Thomas is just acceptable, regardless of the situations. Coach Shawhan has never once made an excuse of fatigue with the tough Jan-Feb compact schedule.

      Finally, Tech did play well against Mankato. BUT, they aren’t to the same level when it comes to depth and scoring as the Mavericks. We can hang with any team in college hockey no matter the conference or record, but we have not been able to show that we can win against them:
      Notre Dame: OTL
      Clarkson: Split
      Minnesota State: 2 OTL, 2 L
      Michigan (depleted roaster): Tie
      Michigan State: OTL

      The only top 20 pairwise team we have beaten has been Clarkson. Instead we have take full advantage of the new NCAA overtime pairwise rules while suffering to the new 3 on 3 format.

      What you call negativity I see as being practical. I do think we will be a better team come play offs since it will be 5 on 5 until someone scores, but we need to show we have the depth to compete with a Mankato or a top NCHC team.

      As far as what I write regarding being positive towards this team I predicted sweeps for MTU in every series until Mankato this second half. So the notion of me being negative is think is being misconstrued with being critical.

      I do appreciate the feedback, but I would also suggest trying to take a step back and try to look at the team from a different perspective at times.

      Thanks,
      Jonathan

  2. I guess I am the eternal optimist. And always positive. I believe that we are a top tier team, and can play with and beat anybody. The problems at Ferris are the same ones other teams had. And probably always will be the same until they fix that rink. (like that will happen, right).

    I just believe this team is a great team. People have mentioned a lack of depth. Well, ok. But watching Bronte digging and scratching against three Mankato players and WINNING the battle was enormous. We can beat that team. We all know that hockey is a game of inches and bounces. We did not get them. The most negative thing I can say about our team is I wish they would shoot the damn puck and quit trying to be cute. At least you have a chance at rebounds. Another thing I have seen nothing about is the huge number of shots we blocked this weekend.

    I guess I get defensive about this team. They have disappointed during the season from time to time, but when they are health, focused and bring their “A” game, I think they can beat any team in the NCAA.

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